The tribulations of Che Guevara, the T-shirt Christ, still continue to fascinate, almost half a century after he was executed in the Bolivian jungle; so, too, continues the hunt for the Judas who betrayed him. A prime suspect has long been the artist Ciro Bustos, who, caught by the CIA-backed Bolivian crack squad sent to track down the Argentinian revolutionary, was accused of providing sketches of his old comrades. A few weeks later, Che was captured and gunned down in cold blood. After a silence over four decades long, Bustos has produced his defence. It makes for a fascinating read, a beautifully written and melancholy tribute to the energy and madness that drove Che to help Castro to overthrow Batista in Cuba and led to his death in Bolivia.
Bustos does something else, too: he writes with real passion about what it was to be a child of the revolution in South America – the excitement, the glamour, the allure of trying to bring down capitalism – in that time as red in tooth and claw as can be. We first meet Che in the flesh in Havana when he is competing against a blind chess master: ‘the ceiling fans were working overtime trying to recycle the air, but it was like stirring soup in which the audience were cooking’. Bustos came to Cuba in 1961 packed to the gunwhales with enthusiasm, but even then he sensed Stalinist sectarianism gnawing at the revolution’s great heart. A woman warned him, ‘your disillusionment will be very painful, I’m afraid. Communists are coming out of the woodwork like mice, taking over everything, to get at the cheese.’ He writes that ‘the phrase remained engraved in my memory like a hieroglyphic chiselled in granite’.
Excerpt from a text by Ciro Bustos. Continue HERE